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From Mayweather To Bad Weather, Hype Of The Century

Flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston on Aug. 27
Flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston on Aug. 27

-Analysis-

It was the "Fight of the Century." Or was it?

As far as fighting goes, Saturday night's $700-million mega-bout between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor — also humbly dubbed "The Biggest Fight In Combat Sports History" (capital letters matter) — was actually a tad more entertaining than Mayweather's 2015 "Fight of the Century" against Manny Pacquiao. But where does it rank compared to the 1971 "Fight of the Century" between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier? Or compared to the first "Fight of the Century" between James Jeffries and Jack Johnson in 1910, the only one to have actually taken place more than 100 years ago?

You see where we are going with this: Either centuries have become exceptionally short or boxing promoters have a serious lack of linguistic imagination.

But the tendency to use hyperbole isn't limited to the world of sports. It has invaded every single corner of the entire universe (and this paragraph). There's no denying its place in politics, as the man currently sitting at the Oval Office, Donald Trump, once predicted he would be "the greatest jobs president that God ever created."

Trump's over-the-top claims on the campaign trail now seem almost quaint after having edged toward a nuclear confrontation with North Korea with linguistic escalation "the likes of which the world has never seen." This past weekend, the president's bombast was applied in the service of seeming to marvel at the "HISTORIC" nature of Hurricane Harvey — and no doubt his coming self-declared historic leadership in response to the damage.

As devastating as the Texas floods are, the coverage it got worldwide appears out of proportion.

We in the media, of course, are suckers for such verbal inflation, tucking "unprecedented," "historic" or "mother of all" whatevers into all the headlines we can find. A quick search with one of these keywords on Google News is enough to see how overused these terms have become.

Yet we all know that as they get repeated undiscerningly, such words are eventually bound to lose their power. The same, it turns out, can happen to numbers. Hurricane Harvey, together with the flooding it caused, was anticipated (wrongly, it appears) by many as a "once-in-500-year flood". Even when the people of Houston had to live through such a tragic event just 16 years ago.

The fact that it happened in the U.S., the world's culturally dominating power, only serves to reinforce the warped view of reality transmitted via the global media. As devastating as the Texas floods are, the coverage it got worldwide appears out of proportion. Compare it to the space dedicated to the Aug. 14 floods and mudslide in Sierra Leone. At least 1,000 people were killed, and nobody called it the storm of the century.

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